What Are The Types of Bad Breath Smells? Facts About Bad Breath (2023)

Bad breath is a common problem that can be caused by many things. There are types of bad breath smells, including garlic and onion types, cigarette types, coffee types, morning mouth types, food types, and more. These different types have different causes – some are harmless while others need to be treated immediately. This article will discuss the various lousy breath smells, so you know what to watch out for!

What is Bad Breath? What is The Smell of Bad Breath?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a condition that affects many people. It is caused by various factors, including poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, dry mouth, and certain types of food. What Are The Types of Bad Breath Smells? Facts About Bad Breath (1)Bad breath can also signify other health problems, such as sinus infections or liver disease.

The smell of bad breath can be challenging to describe, but most people would say it is an unpleasant, musty smell. Some types of bad breath smells are more evident than others. For example, the smell of garlic or onion after eating these foods is pretty unmistakable! However, other types of bad breath, like morning breath, may not be as easily identifiable.

Types of Bad Breath Smells

Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms can all contribute to foul breath. It might be caused by a problem in your mouth or digestive system and metabolic processes occurring in your body.

In any case, let’s look at some of the most prevalent bad breath odors and the underlying causes.

Breath that smells sweet or fruity

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a potentially fatal disease caused by unmanaged diabetes. It might produce the distinct odor of your breath, reminiscent of fruit or flowers. Fasting and low-carb diets can occasionally alter the scent or taste of your breath. The flavor for some people is metallic. Sweetness is smelled by others.

Breath that smells rotten like garbage or death

Your breath may have a meaty, putrid odor if you have an abscess or infection in your mouth, throat, or lungs. Food can also get caught in gaps if you have unfitted dentures, crowns, and orthodontic devices. The smells of old food and bacterial decay might fill the air.

Additionally, poor oral health issues like tooth decay, cavities, lesions, and ulcers are wound-like openings that can trap decaying food or emit rotting smells.

Another possible reason for this type of breath odor is untreated gum disease because of poor dental hygiene.

Furthermore, the breath of patients with granulomatosis can have a putrid or decaying odor. This condition is a rare inflammatory disease that affects your blood vessels, kidneys, and nose. It is curable if treated early on, but the illness can become more severe if left untreated.

Breath that smells like nail polish remover

Carbohydrates are a quick-burning source of energy for your body. You do not eat many carbs when you’re on a low-carb diet like keto or paleo. As a result, your body burns stored fat and produces acetone as a by-product rather than burning carbohydrates.

Breath that smells sour

The muscle between the esophagus and stomach does not seal correctly in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Their stomach contents can back up into their esophagus, throat, or mouth.

Breath that smells like feces

Your breath may start to smell like feces if something obstructs the flow of waste through your intestines. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention because a bowel obstruction can be fatal.

Breath that smells of ammonia or urine

Azotemia is a condition in which your breath smells of ammonia or urine. This problem typically results from kidney damage caused by accident or illness. So, if your kidneys cannot eliminate enough nitrogen, chemicals accumulate in the body, causing an ammonia odor.

Breath that smells musty

Breath with a musty odor is characteristic of those who have liver disease, including cirrhosis. Also, the distinct aroma, known as fetor hepaticus, is caused by volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) accumulating in the body when the liver is not working correctly. Moreover, dimethylsulfide is thought to be responsible for this kind of smell.

Breath that smells like maple syrup

Maple syrup urine disease is caused by a lack of the ability to metabolize some types of amino acids. Breath or urine smells like maple syrup, or caramelized sugar might indicate maple syrup urine disease. This illness can lead to significant health and developmental issues if left untreated.

Breath that smells like sweaty feet

The ability to break down the protein is essential to function the body properly. Your breath might have one of several distinct smells depending on what sort of enzyme is not working effectively. In any case, this can happen, mainly if you do not produce enough of the correct enzymes to decompose amino acids.

Breath that smells fishy

Trimethylaminuria is an enzyme condition in which your body cannot break down trimethylamine, an organic chemical. This can make your mouth odor, sweat, and other fluids to your body release a fishy smell.

Breath that smells of boiled cabbage

Hypermethioninemia is a hereditary disease. This happens when your body cannot properly absorb the amino acid methionine. It causes your breath and urine to have a cabbage-like odor. In fact, this sort of halitosis is frequently found in people with this condition who do not experience any additional symptoms.

Other Causes of Bad Breath

Several things can cause bad breath, including:

Poor Oral Hygiene

As a matter of fact, poor dental hygiene is the most common reason for dental issues like bad breath. If you do not brush your teeth and tongue regularly, bacteria will build up and cause bad breath and other diseases.What Are The Types of Bad Breath Smells? Facts About Bad Breath (2)

Gum Disease

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease. Usually, it will cause the gums to become swollen and put pressure on your teeth. Also, this can trigger food debris, bacteria, and other types of material that collect in the mouth to be pushed into your pearly whites, causing a foul smell.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the common digestive disorders. In fact, this condition can make acid from your stomach leaks back into your esophagus, causing an unpleasant odor.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

Cigarette smoke and tobacco products are full of chemicals that cause bad breath.

Toiletry Products

The types of cosmetics you use could be responsible for halitosis. If you wear perfume or use hair products like hairspray, these can linger in your mouth and make your breath smell terrible.

Dry Mouth

Saliva is responsible for washing away bacteria and food particles in the mouth. So, if you have a dry mouth, these things will build up and cause bad breath.

Sinus Infections

Bacteria from a sinus infection can spread to the throat and cause bad breath.

Diabetes Mellitus

The chemicals released when your body breaks down carbohydrates can cause bad breath, particularly if you have diabetes mellitus Type 1 or Type 2. If too much sugar is present in the blood because of an insulin imbalance, dry mouth can also be triggered.

Medical Conditions

Some types of medication, such as anti-cancer drugs and antidepressants, can cause bad breath. Other medical conditions that can lead to halitosis include liver disease, kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus.

How To Prevent Bad Breath Smells

There are several things you can do to prevent bad breath:

Practice good oral hygiene:This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and using a tongue scraper.

Eat a healthy diet:Also, a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables will help keep your mouth healthy.

Avoid smoking and using any tobacco products:Cigarette smoke is one of the leading causes of bad breath.

Use a mouthwash:Mouthwashes can help kill bacteria and freshen your breath.

Avoid foods that give you bad breath:Garlic, onions, cheese, coffee, and spicy foods are likely to make your breath smell unpleasant.

Use sugarless gum:Chewing sugarless gum can help stimulate saliva production and neutralize bad smells in the mouth.

Remain hydrated:If you are dehydrated, you are more likely to have bad breath. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist.

Use a nasal irrigation system:This can help clear away bacteria and mucus from the nasal passages, reducing bad breath.

See your dentist regularly:A professional cleaning will remove plaque and tartar buildup.

Visit your doctor if you have chronic bad breath:There may be an underlying medical condition causing your halitosis. Hence, see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.


The mouth is home to an ecosystem that includes bacteria, food debris, and even parasites. When these items accumulate in the mouth cavity, they can generate some pretty foul odors like breath that smells fishy, sweaty feet, rotten and more.

So what types of bad breath smells are there? There is a lot more than just plain old halitosis! Fortunately, most cases of bad breath are attributable to poor oral hygiene habits, mainly tooth brushing frequency. These different awful smells usually do not require treatment by a dentist or doctor unless symptoms persist for over three months without any other apparent cause.


Everything you need to know about bad breath.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).


What are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?



What Are The Types of Bad Breath Smells? Facts About Bad Breath? ›

A cheesy smell usually indicates your bad breath has a nasal origin. A fruity smell may indicate uncontrolled diabetes due to increased. A fishy smell may indicate kidney disease, as increased urea levels can cause a fishy smell such as in (trimethylaminuria)

What is the fact about bad breath? ›

Bad breath is estimated to affect 1 in 4 people globally. The most common cause of halitosis is bad oral hygiene. If particles of food are left in the mouth, their breakdown by bacteria produces sulfur compounds. Keeping the mouth hydrated can reduce mouth odor.

What does bad breath smell like? ›

Bacteria that live in the mouth can make compounds that have sulfur. These compounds are especially stinky. They can smell like rotten eggs or onion, for example. If bad breath isn't cleared up by brushing your teeth or using mouthwash, it may be a sign of another issue.

What makes people's breath smell bad? ›

Most bad breath issues are caused by what's happening in your mouth or throat. Bacteria, gum disease, cavities, dry mouth, poorly fitting dental devices, and infections are among the leading causes of bad breath. Sometimes problems in the intestinal tract, liver, and kidneys are at the root of the problem.

What is the biggest cause of bad breath? ›

The most common cause of halitosis is poor oral hygiene. Without proper oral hygiene — like brushing, flossing and routine dental cleanings — harmful bacteria invade your mouth and multiply out of control. This can lead to several oral health issues like halitosis, cavities and gum disease.

Is bad breath a turn off? ›

Of the survey results, 85 per cent said they would be put off from dating someone if that person had bad breath—outranking poor manners, being late and making bad jokes. Furthermore, 80 per cent said they wouldn't go on a second date with someone if that person had bad breath on the first date.

Can you kiss someone with bad breath? ›

Is Bad Breath Contagious? You can't catch halitosis from another person but you can contract the bad bacteria that cause it from someone else. The bad bacteria can be passed by kissing, sharing utensils, sharing toothbrushes, and can even be transmitted to and from your pets!

How can I fix my smelly breath? ›

  1. gently brush your teeth and gums at least twice a day for 2 minutes.
  2. use a fluoride toothpaste.
  3. gently clean your tongue once a day using a tongue scraper or cleaner.
  4. clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss at least once a day.
  5. get regular dental check-ups.
  6. keep dentures clean and remove them at night.

How long does bad breath last for? ›

Just remember, the odor from what you eat can stick around until the food works its way completely out of your system – up to 3 days later! Bad breath can be reduced or prevented if you: Brush and floss more often. Practice good oral hygiene.

Can someone smell your bad breath? ›

If you've eaten something with a potent odor such as garlic or fish, and you can still taste it, chances are others can smell it on your breath too. Or if you have a condition such as dry mouth, or if you're dehydrated, you may be able to taste your breath.

Am I just paranoid about bad breath? ›

This is called "pseudo-halitosis." Halitophobia, or fear of bad breath, is real and may persist despite reassurance from a doctor. People with pseudo-halitosis respond well to reassurance, and may benefit from speaking with a therapist or psychiatrist who has expertise in the field.

How do I know if my breath smells? ›

If you think you might have bad breath, there is a simple test that you can do. Just lick the inside of your wrist and sniff - if the smell is bad, you can be fairly sure that your breath is too.

How bad breath affects your life? ›

Many of the people who suffered from bad breath said that it negatively impacted them psychologically, in key areas such as self-esteem and confidence.

Can I smell my bad breath? ›

If you lick your wrist, let it dry for a moment, then take a whiff, you should be able to get an idea if your breath has an odor too. Another method is to floss toward the back of your mouth, then smell the floss. Or gently scrape your tongue using a tongue scraper or soft bristle toothbrush, then smell the scraper.

Is bad breath bad for you? ›

If you can't get rid of bad breath on your own, see your family doctor to find out if a more serious problem is causing it. Bad breath may be a sign of a health problem. Sinus infections, chronic lung infections, liver or kidney diseases, and diabetes are some health conditions that may cause bad breath.

Why is bad breath important? ›

Bad breath that just won't go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of advanced gum disease, which is caused by a sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque. Garlic, onions, coffee…


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